Female MPs demand suspension of accused ‘porn watcher’ in House of Commons | House of Commons

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Tory whips are investigating yet another House of Commons sex scandal after a female minister reported seeing a male colleague watching porn on a mobile phone in parliament.

The Conservatives were forced to start an inquiry after a string of the party’s female MPs complained to the whips about sexism and misogyny within its ranks in a heated meeting on Tuesday night.

It comes just days after the whips said they would try to find out which Tory MPs, in an article in the Mail on Sunday, had falsely accused Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, of a “Basic Instincts” ploy to distract Boris Johnson by crossing and uncrossing her legs in parliament.

Female MPs are also “on the brink of mutiny”, according to one senior Tory, over a report over the weekend that three cabinet ministers were among 56 MPs against whom complaints of sexual harassment to the independent complaints system were made.

The female junior minister complained about the pornography viewing to the Commons’ chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, at a meeting of a new group for women MPs and peers – known as the 2022 – on Tuesday night. A second senior female MP also raised similar concerns about the same male MP.

A whips’ office spokesperson said: “The chief whip is looking into this matter. This behaviour is wholly unacceptable and action will be taken.”

When the complaints were raised others among the group of 40 MPs in attendance were said to have “gone ballistic”. One recalled: “We all shouted that they had to be suspended.” Another attendee said: “I think chief wasn’t prepared for strength of feeling, one colleague talked about comments made on her skirt, another at being called ‘girls’ by whips, another about being sniggered at by male colleagues in chamber.”

They also complained that women MPs were being sidelined, with the media dominated by senior Tory men on the morning broadcast rounds and regular television shows.

The female MPs did not name the man who allegedly watched porn in the chamber during the meeting. However, there was fevered speculation in Westminster on Wednesday about the identity of the male MP. Several names circulated amid conflicting information about whether this had been a frontbencher.

Female MPs across the Commons are outraged about the treatment of Rayner. But Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Wednesday the PM was “uncomfortable” that the Speaker had summoned the editor of the Mail on Sunday to discuss its misogynistic treatment of her.

David Dillon, the newspaper’s editor, was asked to meet the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle. But on Wednesday the Mail ran a response from Dillon saying he would not attend the meeting, as well as a story suggesting Rayner had joked about the comparison on previous occasions with Tory MPs as well as on a podcast.

In response, Rayner hit out at claims that she had previously viewed “sexist slurs” made against her as a joke.

Rayner tweeted in response: “I said … in January that the sexist film parody about me was misogynistic and it still is now. As women we sometimes try to brush aside the sexism we face, but that doesn’t make it OK.

“The Mail implies today that I somehow enjoy being subjected to sexist slurs. I don’t. They are mortifying and deeply hurtful. ‘She loves it really’ is a typical excuse so many women are familiar with. But it can’t be women’s responsibility to call it out every time. I don’t need anyone to explain sexism to me – I experience it every day.

“Boris Johnson gave assurances he would unleash ‘the terrors of the earth’ on the Tory MPs spreading this vile sexism. I hope to hear what he’ll be doing about it today.”

Hoyle told MPs on Monday he had arranged a meeting with Dillon after an outcry over the claims in the article. Dillon said he and his political editor, Glen Owen, would not be attending as journalists should “not take instruction from officials of the House of Commons, however august they may be”.

The Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, chair of the women and equalities committee, wrote to Hoyle asking him to consider revoking the Commons pass of the article’s author. However, Hoyle, who met Rayner on Monday, suggested it would not be right to remove his pass.

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